When the previous Audi RS3 landed, it seemed singularly overcooked. This one feels far more sophisticated and its enhancements are obvious.
At the one end, better comfort levels – Audi's magnetic dampers are an essential option – and superior refinement make the RS3 the plush, usable prospect it always should have been. At the other, it is hilariously fast.
Merely turning up the wick on a hot hatch doesn’t guarantee it greater esteem in our eyes, but because the real star here is the magnificent powertrain, the remoteness of the chassis isn’t a deal-breaker.
The car can’t compete with the vivid involvement of the Renaultsport Mégane Trophy-R or the value and broad-batted dynamic talent of a Volkswagen Golf R or even a 2016 Autocar favourite the Ford Focus RS.
But measured against rivals built in its likeness, and directed squarely at those for whom five doors and four driven wheels are essential components of a £40k performance car, the ferocity, stability and quality here are outstanding. It just makes you wonder what kind of animal to expect in 2017 when Audi Sport finally deliver the RS3 Saloon.